News and Events

Visible and Cheap, in the Retail Environment, is Where Tobacco Enters Our Community
March 17, 2022

The tobacco industry spends most of their marketing money in the retail environment to promote their products, in which, most of their marketing efforts are aimed directly to our kids. Essentially, the tobacco industry is buying shelf and advertising space to keep tobacco visible and offering price discounts to keep tobacco cheap. These companies are no fool, what they are really “buying” is youth who initiate - adults who can’t quit! 

In efforts to combat these marketing tactics, the Tobacco Free Partnership of Highlands County has been elbow deep in the retail realm of the tobacco industry for years. We have conducted several rounds of tobacco retail assessments from 44+ retailers, nearly every licensed tobacco retailer in Highlands County.

The retail point of sale (POS) is comprised of three main categories: (a) point-of-sale advertisements, (b) price discounts (c) coupons. This is a very comprehensive and lengthy process as the metrics under which retailers are monitored include – types of tobacco products, product placement, pricing promotions, tobacco advertisements, the availability of tobacco ‘lookalike’ products, etc.

While we have seen a slight positive change in some locations over the years, we still have a long way to go. Previously, all the stores had at least one infraction, most with numerous. What’s worse, some of these retailers opt into an AVC Agreement - Assurances of Voluntary Compliance (AVC). AVC is a legal agreement between a tobacco retailer and one or more states. Under these agreements, tobacco retailers can voluntarily enact tobacco advertising and/or sales restrictions.

As you can see, the retail point of sale is a big issue here in our local community. The data obtained throughout this monitoring process the past several years gives insight into local issues and brings awareness into the effectiveness of voluntary agreements in the tobacco retail environment. Some of the most notable findings included areas for improvement with existing federal, local, and state tobacco regulations.



Our Tobacco Free Partnership and Students Working Against Tobacco have created a POS task force – a team of individuals with a passion for improving the health of Highlands County residents, particularly our youth, to help collect data and further analyze to determine how to create lasting change.

Our POS Task Force members are now working on tackling another round of assessments to gather updated data. We look forward to meeting with retailers to ensure compliance and educating decision makers on the importance of improving regulations in our local retail environment as far as tobacco sales and youth initiative are concerned.


For more information on tobacco at the retail point-of-sale or to get involved, please contact Amanda John, Program Manager, Tobacco Free Partnership of Highlands County -